Know the Signs

Since taking office in January 2018, Sheriff Toulon has made it his mission to "get to them before they get to me".  He partnered with the Sandy Hook Promise in August of 2018 and trained a team of officers to implement the SHP Know the Signs Programs Say Something and Start With Hello.

About Know the Signs

People who are at-risk of hurting themselves or others often show signs and signals before an act of violence takes place. 


of school shooters told someone of their violent plans prior to the event.


of people who die by suicide told someone of their plans or gave some type of warning or indication.

The Suffolk County Sheriff's Office, in conjunction with Sandy Hook Promise, is teaching youth and adults how to identify, intervene, and get help for individuals BEFORE they hurt themselves or others.  We offer and deliver, at no cost to schools or youth organizations, the Say Something and Start With Hello programs. 


  • Say Something teaches youth in 6th through 12th grade how to recognize warning signs and signals, especially within social media, from individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others and "Say Something" to a trusted adult BEFORE it's too late.


  • Start With Hello teaches youth in Kindergarten through 12th grade how to minimize social isolation, marginalization, and rejection by creating an inclusive community that reaches out and connects with at-risk individuals BEFORE they choose to hurt themselves or others.

When you don't what to look for, it can be easy to miss signs or dismiss them as unimportant, sometimes with tragic consequences.  It is important to know that one warning sign on its own does not mean a person is planning an act of violence.  However, when many connected or cumulative signs are observed over a period of time, it could mean the person is heading down a pathway towards violence or self-harm.  By knowing the signs, you have the power to intervene and get help for that person.  Your action can save lives.

Though we can't list every possible warning sign, these provide the most common indicators:

  •  Making overt threats of violence in pictures, videos, spoken or written words.   

  • Unsupervised, illegal and/or easy access to firearms or weapons, or bragging about access to them.

  • Exhibiting excessive over-reactions or aggressive behavior for seemingly minor reasons can be an indicator of someone who cannot self-regulate their emotions or control their behavior.

  • Gestures of violence and low commitment or aspirations towards school, or a sudden change in academic performance. 

  • Committing juvenile or multiple offenses, especially if at a young age.

  • Patterns of impulsive aggressive behavior.

  • Regularly using intimidation or bullying behaviors.

  • Chronic social isolation.

  • A sudden increase in withdrawing from other people and activities.

  • Blaming others for their own failures or mistakes.

  • Threatening behaviors.

  • Bringing a weapon into school.

  • Bragging about an upcoming attack.

  • Recruiting a friend to plan or join an attack.

  • Warning a friend or classmate to stay away from school or an event.

  • Significant personality change and/or dramatic changes in physical appearance. 

  • Talking about or making plans for suicide.

  • Expressing hopelessness about the future and/or displaying severe or overwhelming emotional pain or distress. 

  • Dishonesty, antisocial beliefs, and hostility towards law enforcement. 

  • Intolerance or prejudice towards differences in other skin tones, religions, countries of origin, etc.

  • Access to and prevalent use of drugs and alcohol.    

Note: If you observe multiple warning signs or signals, or even one definitive threat, please take it seriously and act immediately.  Talk to law enforcement, school officials, or even a mental health professional.  In the event of an emergency situation, please call 911 immediately.  

For more information on the Say Something, Start With Hello, or the Safety Assessment & Intervention Guidelines, or to book a presentation in your school or youth organization, please visit the links below.  

The Suffolk County Sheriff's Office is an Accredited Law Enforcement Agency


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